When you were a teenager and turned the radio up to full volume, you had little thought about how this might damage your health. You were just having a good time listening to your tunes.
As you grew, you probably indulged in evenings out at loud concerts or the movies. It may even be common for you to have experienced loud noise at work. Still, you didn’t think it had any lasting effects.
Now that you’re older and more mature, you probably know better. Children as young as 12 can have long-term noise-induced hearing impairment. But did you know that sound is so powerful that it can even be used as a weapon?
Can Sound Make You Ill?
In fact, it Can. It’s apparent to doctors and scientists alike that specific sound can make you sick. Here’s why.
How Loud Sound Impacts Health
The inner ear can be damaged by extremely loud sounds. After sound goes through the membrane of the eardrum it’s picked up by tiny hairs in the ears. These hairs never regenerate once they are destroyed. This is what causes the sensorineural hearing loss that many people deal with as they age.
Damaging volume starts at 85 decibels for an 8 hour time frame. If you’re subjected to over 100 dB, permanent impairment happens within 15 minutes. A loud concert is about 120 decibels, which triggers instantaneous, irreversible harm.
Noises can also impact cardiovascular wellness. Obesity, high blood pressure, clogged arteries, and other vascular issues can be the result of increased stress hormones induced by excessively loud noise. This may explain the headaches and memory problems that individuals exposed to loud noise complain about. These are directly related to cardiovascular health.
In fact, one study revealed that sound volumes that begin to impact the heart, and hormones are as low a 45 decibels. That’s about the volume of somebody with a quiet inside voice.
How Sound Frequency Affects Health
Cuban diplomats got sick after being exposed to certain sounds a few years ago. This sound wasn’t at a very loud volume. They could drown it out with a television. So how could this type of sound cause people to get sick?
The answer is frequency.
Even at lower volumes, appreciable damage can be done by certain high-frequency sound.
Does the sound of nails on a chalkboard cause you to cringe? Have you been driven crazy by someone repeatedly dragging their finger over a folded piece of paper? Have you ever had to plug your ears during a violin recital?
Damage was being done to your hearing if you’ve ever experienced pain from high-pitched sound. If you experienced this for an extended period of time, regularly exposed yourself to it, or were exposed at a high volume, then the damage may have become irreversible.
Studies have also found that you don’t even need to be able to hear the sound. Damaging frequencies can come from lots of common devices like sensors, trains, machinery, etc.
Your health can also be affected by infrasound which is very low frequency sound. It can vibrate the body in such a way that you feel nauseated and disoriented. Some individuals even experience migraine symptoms like flashes of color and light.
Safeguarding Your Hearing
Recognize how specific sounds make you feel. Reduce your exposure if specific sounds make you feel pain or other symptoms. Pain is commonly a warning sign of damage.
Have your hearing tested regularly by a hearing specialist to find out how your hearing may be changing over time.